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Here is a sentence from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:

He had eaten his share of the dinner, but he hadn't really enjoyed it because he was thinking all the time about Turkish Delight—and there's nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food.

I don't quite understand what the half adds to the meaning of the whole expression. Is it being used as an intensifier of sorts, and, if paraphrased, could that part of the sentence be something like:

There's nothing at all that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food.

  • The usual wording is "half as much as..." – user3169 Jan 23 '17 at 2:12
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Yes, it's used as an intensifier of sorts - hyperbole, perhaps.

If you turn it around, it claims that regardless what else you might think of that spoils the taste of good ordinary food, the memory of bad magic food is twice as bad.

It doesn't just say that the memory of bad magic food is simply worse - it is saying that it's a lot worse.

The turn of phrase is similar to the following, particularly in its use of a quantifier as a rhetorical device, rather than a strict mathematical comparison:

you don’t know/haven’t heard the half of it used for telling someone that a situation is more shocking or complicated than they think - Macmillan Dictionary

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    +1, but the worse thing is actually somewhat more than twice as bad as anything else. The less bad thing's badness is less than half the badness of the worse thing. It's not (even) half as bad. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 22 '17 at 14:11
  • @TRomano Well now, that observations's not half bad! :) – Lawrence Jan 22 '17 at 14:13
  • My observation is like Log™. Fun for girls and boys. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 22 '17 at 14:14
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    I've now made it explicit that the number isn't intended in a strictly mathematical sense. – Lawrence Jan 22 '17 at 14:16
  • Sorry to spoil the fun by requesting an explanation of a joke, but would you mind elaborating on the reference to Log? – Lawrence Jan 22 '17 at 14:19

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